• Published 22nd Mar 2015
  • 742 Views, 36 Comments

Masks - _Vidz_

A young colt, tormented by the dreadful stares of the ponies around him, desperately searches for a place where he can feel safe. Just when he feels he's found it, it seems this place has a much darker plan for him.

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

“You and I . . . really aren’t too different,” says Suave.

“How’s that?” I ask. Suave pulls out her little music box, cradling it in her hooves to comfort herself.

“The day Father put me in the room, was the day I always regretted. It started out quiet and peaceful, just like any other day. Until he saw me trying to take off my mask. He walked into my room to tell me dinner was ready, and the tone of his voice just . . . changed. He kept asking me what I was doing, but I just kept telling him I wasn’t doing anything. He got mad, and he yanked me out of bed and into the hall. He unlocked the door and threw me into the room. I was screaming, begging for him to let me out, and he said, ‘Not until you’ve learned,’ before he left to go back downstairs. So I sat, with my eyes shut, waiting for him to come back.”

“W-Well, if you knew it was wrong, why did you try to take the mask off?”

“Because I—” she stops, and glances over at the door. “Come here.” She whispers whilst beckoning me over to her bedside. I get up from the little seat to her make-up desk, and walk over to her bed. She pats the surface of the bed next to her, signaling me to be next to her. Mixed with curiosity, and a small ounce of fear, I cautiously sit near her on her bed. “Can you keep another promise for me? Nopony can know about what I’m about to tell you. This is a secret just between you and me.” She whispers. I nod my head to her, and she leans in just a little bit closer. “I don’t want to wear this mask anymore. Sometimes I just feel like tearing it off my face and throwing it across the room, but I know if I do, Father will know. He’ll put me back in the room if I do. I don’t want to go back in the room. I don’t want to go back in the room.” She repeats nervously.

“You won’t go back in the room, don’t worry.”

“I hate this mask Avral, I hate it. I’m sick of seeing the same face everywhere I go. I’m sick of not being able to show ‘my’ face to anyone. Nopony in this town would understand me, no one. That’s why I said you and I are the same.”

“I don’t know. Most of the time, I feel like I should be the one behind a mask.”

“But I mean that, because we’re different from everyone around us, it makes us similar in a way.”

“But . . . why ‘wouldn’t’ you like it here? With everyone wearing these masks, there’s no one to point and laugh at you for looking different. Nothing for you to be ashamed of.”

“Well . . . maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”

“I-I don’t understand, why wouldn’t that be a bad thing?”

“I mean, if everyone’s the same, then there’s nothing that makes you . . . you. Nothing that makes you different from all the rest. And that’s what I want, I want to be different . . . I want to be like you.”

“Like me? I don’t see why anypony would want to be like me.”

“I want to because you’re different. Tell me, what is it like where you live? What is everypony else like? Does everyone have their own face?”

“Well, yes we do. Nopony wears masks where I live. Everyone usually seems so happy and . . . carefree.”

“Oh, it sounds like the perfect place to live. You know, I’ve always dreamt of a place like that, but it’s just so hard to think of so many different faces. I wish I could just . . . see it. Just to know that it’s real.”

“. . . I could take you.”

“Would you?”

“Sure, I mean, why not?”

“Oh Avral, thank you!” Suave unexpectedly tosses herself onto me and throws her forelegs around me to wrap me in a tight hug. Not wanting her so close to my face, I try to turn my head away and lean back as far as I can. After noticing how uncomfortable I’ve become, she lets go, returning to her space on the bedside. “I’m sorry, I let my excitement get the best of me.”

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Suddenly, we hear a loud knocking from downstairs. The both of us leave the bed to quietly investigate what’s going on in the living room. We descend down the staircase, and stop to peek through the bars of the banister. Suave’s Father is talking to somepony at the front door. It’s the same mare I saw staring at me from outside before I entered the house.

“I hope I haven’t disturbed your family,” she says.

“Oh not at all. Why is it you’ve stopped by this hour?” Suave’s Father asks.

“Well, I couldn’t help but notice you have a visitor.”

“Why indeed we do. One of Suave’s friends I believe.”

“You wouldn’t mind I meet, and welcome the young colt to our little town would you?”

“Oh of course not, please come in.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Suave! Honey could you and your friend come down for just a moment?!”

“Come on, let’s go.” Suave whispers. We walk the rest of the way down, as the mare’s empty eyes immediately glue to me. I check to make sure my hood is held securely over my head as I warily step closer to her. However, some of that tension is relieved with Suave by my side.

“Hello dear,” says the mare. Her stare feels like it has me by the throat, as I feel too afraid to utter even a ‘hello’.

“Oh, excuse me Miss.” Suave’s Father begins. “You see, he’s not that much of a talker.”

“Oh that’s quite alright. No worries, I just wanted to say, welcome our town. I saw you outside earlier. I hope I didn’t scare you.” I then shake my head to her. “Oh that’s good, I wouldn’t want to make a bad first impression. I understand you’re not too fond of speaking, but could I at the very least know your name?” She asks, squatting down to meet me at eye level.

“. . . A-Avral.” I mutter.

“Ah, Avral, such a nice name. Well, I should go and inform the mayor of our new visitor. I’m sure he’d love to welcome him as well. In fact . . . this just might call for a gathering!”

“What a delightful idea!” Suave’s Mother cheers.

“You know what, I feel you’re right. Everypony in town should welcome our new visitor!” Says Suave’s Father.

“Oh I-I don’t know. . .” I say.

“Do not worry young Avral, we want you to feel right at home. It’ll be a time of merriment! Surely you must stay with us for just a little while longer, at least until our short celebration has ended?”

“I . . . I. . .”

“Please Avral? Stay just a little while longer?” Suave asks.

“Please, we insist.” Her Father continues. Glancing back and forth between the four of them, I give in, unable to resist.

“Well . . . okay. I’ll stay.”

“Splendid! I’ll go ahead and inform the mayor! I’m certain he will be overjoyed.” The mare leaves, closing the door behind her as she walks away. Walking over to the window, I peer over the windowsill to watch her walk down the dirt road. Oddly, she stops, and as I continue to watch her, she turns her head back to me. Fearing being noticed, I hide under the window. After a about a second or two, I carefully peer back over the windowsill to find that she has somehow vanished.

“Oh! I do believe dinner is just about ready!” Says Suave’s Mother as she trots into the kitchen, immediately tending to the steaming pots that rest on the stove.

“Please, Avral, follow us to the dining table. Suave honey, would you please help me set the table?” Her Father asks.

“Yes Father.” The both of them hurry to the dining room, and I awkwardly follow from a distance, still a bit distraught from the sudden disappearance of the mare from outside. All this hospitality is almost jarring. Especially after hearing about this ‘gathering’, it makes me feel a bit uneasy. All this attention, focused on me, isn’t really something I’m new to; but not in such a positive manner. These ponies seem so kind that it almost feels unreal. However, in the same token, it feels refreshing.

After the table is set with bowls and utensils, Suave’s Mother begins dishing out the stew she’s prepared. Setting the big pot in the center of the table on top of a dish cloth, she lowers a big ladle inside to catch a big spoonful of stew and pour it into everypony’s bowl. All of us take a seat in the wooden chairs set up around the table, with Suave and I on one side, and her parents just across from us. As they all dip their spoons into their bowls, they guide the stew under their masks and to their mouths. “Thank you for joining us, Avral. We appreciate your company,” says Suave’s Father.

“So, where are you from dear? Surely you’re not from around here.” Suave’s Mother asks.

“Um, I’m from Ponyville,” I say.

“Ponyville? Hm, I’ve never heard of such a place.”

“Wait a second, are you saying you came from beyond the woods all by yourself? Aren’t you aware of the dangers that could be lurking in there?” Suave’s Father asks.

“You’re lucky you found us. Who knows what might’ve happened to you out there?”

“Suave honey, how did you meet Avral?”

“Well, he . . . I was playing at the edge of town, and I just saw him come out from the woods,” says Suave.

“I see. Well, as I said, we are glad to have you here.

“. . . Thank you,” I say. None of us say another word for a short while as they all continue to eat, and I stare at the bowl before me, too uncomfortable to even attempt to pick up the spoon.

“Is everything alright dear?” Her Mother asks. “You’re not eating.”

“I’m uh . . . I’m not very hungry.”

“Oh but you must at least try it. It’s my family’s favorite stew, they’ve never sat down without taking a single bite.”

“Come on Avral, it’s really good.” Suave adds. Feeling backed up into a corner, I try to reiterate to Suave.

“N-No, really I—”

“Please?” She interrupts. “For me?” I pause, as the soft innocence of Suave’s voice acts as the final blow in my fight to resist. I pick up the spoon, lower it down into my bowl, and allow the brownish-green liquid to pour into the cup of the spoon. I guide the steaming spoon to my mouth, and taste the warm, wondrous, grassy, and salty sensation on my tongue. The family, seemingly pleased, watch as I eagerly go for another spoonful.

“Well, I take it you like it!” Suave’s Mother chuckles. Halfway through our bowls, Suave’s Father looks up at me.

“Pardon me Avral.” He begins. “I don’t mean to impose, but would you mind if you lowered your hood? I don’t think I got quite a good look at you, and besides, when we’re at the table I feel it only proper.” Just like back at the beginning of my first day at the new school, that rush of anxiety fills me. With my hooves gripping the edges of the hood, I tug it down to keep it over my head. “Please Avral, just for a moment. I’d like to at least ‘see’ my daughter’s friend eye to eye. After that, you can have your hood back on for as long as you like.” Conflicted, I feel I don’t want to be rude, but the fact still remains, I don’t want to potentially ruin their dinner by showing myself.

“Go on, Avral,” says Suave as she nudges my shoulder.

“Yes dear, go right ahead, there’s nothing to be nervous about.” Suave’s Mother adds. Again, it’s hard to fight back against their words. I am in their home, and I suppose the polite thing to do would be to just do as they ask. Cautiously and slowly, I remove my hood, watching to see if any of them reel back in their seat from the sight of me. However, they seem to do no such thing.

“There, that wasn’t so bad now was it?” Her Father asks as he proceeds to eat. I take a look around the table, and am overcome with thoughts. I hadn’t received a single gasp or concerned question about my appearance. It’s strange, it feels so abnormal to not have received the reaction I was expecting. For once, I actually feel accepted. I can sit at this dinner table, and almost feel without shame. Unlike at my own dinner table, where shame felt prominent. Suddenly, a knock at the door breaks the peace, and as Suave’s Father goes to answer it, I yank my hood back over my head. He opens the door, and happily greets an older, well-dressed stallion in a gray suit. As expected, he as well is wearing a white, porcelain mask. “Ah, good afternoon Mister Mayor!”

“The same to you! Now, I do hope I’m not interrupting,” he says in a rather jolly voice.

“Oh not at all.”

“Good. So, I hear we have a visitor in your home today.”

“Indeed we do, he’s just over there.”

“Oh-hoh! So this is the young lad I’ve been hearing about! What would your name be dear colt?”

“. . . Avral,” I mutter.

“Well Avral, I would like you to know that we have something planned for you, and we do hope you enjoy it. As a matter of fact . . . it would seem that nearly everypony is set for the gathering! Please sir, you and your family will join us right?”

“But of course, we wouldn’t want to miss an occasion such as this,” says Suave’s Father.

“Great! Well, as long as you’re all ready, I’d like to guide you all to the park. I must say, everypony is a bit eager to get started.”

“Well I believe we are. Sweetheart!” He calls to Suave’s Mother. “Go ahead and wrap up the stew for later darling, the gathering is about to begin!”

“Oh wonderful!” She says happily. “Why don’t you kids go and meet up with the mayor, I’ll be there shortly.”

“Okay Mother!” Suave cheers as I follow her from the table all the way to the front door where her Father and the mayor stand.

“Well now, good afternoon Suave!” The mayor greets. “How have you been dear?”

“I’ve been well,” she says.

“That’s good to hear. And what say you Mister Avral? Are you excited?” Not wanting to respond, I keep my head low and eyes to the floor.

“You’ll have to excuse him Mister Mayor, he’s a bit shy.”

“Why that’s no problem at all. Although, I do hope he doesn’t plan on being that way throughout the entire festivity. It’s a time of celebration! Not a time for hiding. Well now, shall we get going?”

“Yes, yes, I’m ready,” says Suave’s Mother joining us at the doorway.

“Splendid! Then let us be on our way.” The mayor leads us all outside, and I follow behind, unsure of what to expect.

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